PRO Tips

Capt. Jonathan Moss

Hello! This is Capt. Jonathan Moss of Go Castaway Fishing Charters with the May edition of Coastal Angler Magazine’s Pro Tip. This month, let’s focus our attention on leader techniques specifically for inshore light tackle and fly fishing set ups.

Inshore light tackle sight fishing is one of the most challenging and rewarding types of fishing today. Stalking and presenting a lure to a visible fish without spooking it is the challenge. However, watching the fish commit to eating your lure makes sight fishing so rewarding. Adding the use of light tackle to the mix, increases the challenge and the fun! My favorite inshore light tackle rod and reel combo is a 7ft Medium action Bull Bay Rod paired with a Florida Fishing Products Osprey 3000 reel, spooled with 10lb braided line and 20lb fluorocarbon leader about 24 inches in length. This set up has caught fish up to 40 pounds and can make long casts to the spookiest of fish.

But why use a leader?

Braided line has become the industry standard for inshore saltwater fishing because of its abrasion resistance, cast ability, and tensile strength – despite being considerably narrower than monofilament line. Unlike monofilament line, braided line is not clear, thus needing a leader. Fluorocarbon leader is clear, abrasion resistant, and has minimal stretch. This allows for a better feel of even the lightest bites and a stronger hook set.

When determining which leader strength and length to use, one must consider water clarity, structure in the area, and fish behavior. If the water is dirty, milky or not clear, then a thicker, shorter leader can be used since the fish will not see the leader. If there is a lot of structure in and around the area you are fishing — for example, docks, sea walls, mangroves or mangrove shoots — a thicker and longer piece of leader is required to keep from breaking off. If the fish are feeding aggressively, a thicker leader may not deter the fish from eating your lure or bait. If a fish denies your presentation, it could be that your leader line was seen by the now line-shy fish, which means it’s time to lower leader thickness and increase leader length. As a general starting point, I rig my spinning combos with a 24-inch piece of 20lb fluorocarbon leader. That being said, I keep a thinner and thicker spool of leader on the skiff as a backup in case I need to adjust thickness or length.

To attach the leader to the braided line, simply use a uni-to-uni knot. This strong knot, effectively joins braided line and fluorocarbon leader together and, if tied correctly, only creates a small union that easily slides through the guides of the rod. If needed, a step by step instructional video on how to tie a uni-to-uni knot can be found on my website, under the “Articles and More” section.

In fly fishing, some anglers purchase or tie their own tapered leaders. Purchased tapered leaders are strong and easy to cast, but they are pricey. Tying your own leaders keep down cost. However, it takes time, and leaders can be difficult to store without getting tangled. To eliminate the hassle and to save money, use a straight 8 to 9ft section of fluorocarbon to create your fly leader. Most fly lines have a welded loop at the end of the line, so simply tie a perfection loop in one end of the leader to attach the leader loop to loop. The same fluorocarbon leader material used in the spinning reel application, can also be used in fly fishing, just a longer section. Using the same leader saves you time, money, and storage space. Furthermore, when the fly leader starts to get too short for fly fishing, tie it onto a spinning reel, which in turn limits waste. To determine, the size of leader to use for fly fishing, use the same techniques discussed with spin fishing. But for most inshore fly fishing, start with an 8-9ft section of 20lb fluorocarbon leader and adjust as needed.

Have a question about a specific fishing topic? Send me an email at, I’d be happy to help!

Until next time, tight lines!

Capt. Jonathan Moss
Go Castaway Fishing Charters